Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Freedom of speech for some?

Published:Saturday | January 17, 2015 | 11:26 PMWayne Plummer

Let me first express my condolences to the loved ones of all those killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the perpetrators of the attack. All life is valuable, regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality and all other labels we utilise to create divisions in the human race.

The use of violence, whether by countries, groups or individuals, to advance positions or remedy perceived wrongs cannot be condoned.

In the aftermath of the terror attack, a lot has been said about freedom of speech and the right to offend others. This convenient position of supposedly unbridled freedom of expression is being espoused by the very same lawmakers and commentators who passed and supported the passage of legislation criminalising what is consider hate speech.

If we are embracing  unbridled freedom of speech and freedom of expression, is it not contradictory to have laws criminalising so-called hate speech? Or is it a case of supporting freedom of speech and the right to offend only when the offence is directed towards religions, institutions, groups and individuals opposing positions and lifestyles we are championing?

Surely, the proponents of hate-speech legislation are not suggesting that only some have the right to exercise freedom of speech to offend, or are they?


Greater Portmore, St Catherine